A pre-election survey conducted by C-FORE for Asianet News has predicted that the BJP would open its account for the first time in the upcoming Assembly elections in Kerala. The survey, conducted between February 1-12, has said the BJP would get its highest-ever vote-share of 18% in the state and may get 3-5 seats. Kerala remains the only major state where the BJP has never had an MLA in any election. The party was close to winning a parliamentary constituency in 2014, when O Rajagopal was narrowly defeated by the Congress’s Shashi Tharoor in the Thiruvananthapuram seat.
The survey also points to a clear change of government post elections with the CPM-led LDF predicted to storm to power with 41% vote-share and 77-82 seats. The Congress party, which currently leads the ruling dispensation under the leadership of Oommen Chandy, will get 55-60 seats with a vote-share of 37%. The half-way mark in the 140-member state Assembly is 70.
For the CPM-led LDF, the survey comes across as a sweet piece of news after its resounding success in the local body elections held last year. The Left, over the past two years, has vigorously attacked the Congress-led government for the latter’s alleged involvement in the bar bribery and solar scandals. In fact, the survey has pointed out that corruption is the biggest concern among the responders. It would be interesting to see who the LDF nominates as chief minister once the party comes to power. An open tussle between former CM VS Achuthanandan, a fiery leader who has drawn big crowds, and state party secretary Pinarayi Vijayan is quite well known in the state’s political circles.
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As for the Congress, the survey presents cause for worry as the party battles public perception to put up a brave front before elections. Significant revelations made by solar scam accused Saritha S Nair has dented the image of CM Oommen Chandy, whose alleged personal involvement in the scandal has kept household drawing rooms alive. The controversy around the bar bribery scandal and the eventual resignation of KM Mani, the powerful finance minister and key Congress ally, was also a setback for the Congress.
If Congress loses Kerala, then Karnataka would remain the party’s sole citadel in the south. Any significant tilting of votes for the BJP in the state will be a headache for the Congress. In Assam too, the party is fighting hard against a resurgent BJP that tasted success in the 2014 elections with victory in seven parliamentary seats.